Goose Island Stout Fest, held at GI Clybourn Pub, should be on every Chicagoan’s (or every stout-lover’s, for that matter) “Must-Fest List.”
Holdup … you don’t have a “Must-Fest List?”
Well then, drop everything! Start making a list right now and put this annual Stout Fest way up at the top! Sheesh!
Being a first-time attendee myself, I was impressed by the following:
The large number of breweries in attendance: over 100 stouts were pouring, which might explain why I had to leave the fest an hour early to go take a nap in the backseat of my car. (Don’t worry–Matt was driving home!)
Virtually no lines: I was able to walk around the fest and taste what I wanted with ease. Minimal congestion and maximum elbow room for raising a tiny glass was plentiful!
A large percentage of high caliber entries: The high quality of entries made it incredibly difficult to choose my top three favorites–I mean, my beloved Perennial Abraxas didn’t even make the list, and I still enjoyed it immensely. The competition was pretty stiff.
Availability of bar food during the fest: A critical moment occurs in every beer fest, during which you either stop to eat and drink water, take a nap facedown in the backseat of your car, or keep drinking and inevitably perish in some kind of terrible, fiery accident. Kidding, but the fact that I stopped halfway through to eat a humongoid burger probably saved me from some kind of embarrassing end to the day. (The nap didn’t hurt either!)
Fest-goers and attending brewers were all given tickets to vote on their favorites. The People’s Choice Awards were almost exactly like my own fest favorites, with Revolution Café Deth getting 3rd place, Spiteful Malevolence Chocolate Caliente grabbing 2nd, and Goose Island Clybourn Proprietary winning 1st. I was also in agreement with the brewers in the house, who chose Spiteful Brewing as the recipient of the “Brewer’s Choice Award.”
Ultimately, my top three favorite (pre-car nap) pours of the day were:
#3: Proprietary, Goose Island Clybourn (11.5% ABV)
Barrel Aged Imperial Stout with Toasted Coconut
#2: Coffee Liquid Spiritual Delight, 2nd Shift Brewing (11.5 ABV%)
Imperial Stout with Blueprint Coffee
#1: Cask of Malevolence Chocolate Caliente, Spiteful Brewing (10.5% ABV)
Mexican Hot Chocolate Stout with Cacao Nibs, Cinnamon, Peppers, and Vanilla Beans
A big cheers to this fantastic fest. Next year can’t come soon enough, and I’ll be sure to bring a pillow next time.